Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 09:39:17 -0500
From: "George S. Cole" gscole[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ARK.SHIP.EDU
Subject: Re: THIS X SUCKS

Relative to Judi's comments, and going back to memories of a rural
childhood on a small poultry farm (in Delaware) in the 1940s & 1950s,
both dogs & snakes could be called egg suckers. With uncaged chickens,
or other poultry for that matter, it was not unusual for range-fed
(today's term) birds to lay an egg, or start a nest, outside of the
chicken house. If a dog had found out what raw egg tasted like, the
farmer had a problem. (Freshly laid eggs might be broken for a number
of reasons, including: too many eggs in the nest; & the chicken hadn't
consumed enough calcium to develop the 'proper' shell.) Egg-sucking
dogs were those that had learned to intentionally crush the shell of an
egg to get to the contents. Concurrently, such dogs might seek out
nesting sites, even if in the chicken house, and eat eggs. A female dog
might show pups how to do the same thing. If egg-sucking dogs couldn't
be kept away from nesting areas, the farmer could think that it was best
to get rid of the dog (in some way). Thus, egg-sucking dogs weren't
appreciated. [If raw egg material was fed to dogs, the material was
mixed with other items of food, to disguise the egg content. Absolutely
no egg shell was to be in the mix. Supposedly, raw egg improved the
dog's coat.]

Snakes would swallow an egg, crushing the shell once the egg was inside
of the snake. Thus, the phrases that compare a person to an egg-sucking
snake. [Unlike dogs, snakes were not seen as being "natural" farm
animals. They were unwelcome intruders, especially if they ate small

As a pre-schooler, I was aware of the "egg-sucking dog" phrase many
years before I encountered related uses of the term. Comparatively
speaking, egg-sucking dog is an innocent phrase.

Also, years before today's concern with food poisoning, it would not be
unusual to hear a person talk about punching small holes (there are
several ways to do it, without destroying the overall structure of the
shell) in both ends of an egg, and sucking the contents out of the egg.
For macho teenagers, it would be a way to show off at a party.